Moving the Latrobe Valley beyond brown coal and into renewable energies is the focus of the Australian Labor Party’s proposed transition plan.
Labor’s Climate Change Action Plan was announced late last month, highlighting a national transition away from brown coal and towards a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030.
Labor candidate for McMillan Chris Buckingham said the environment policy provided a “strong vision” for an economy built on renewable energy, with a focus on job creation, cutting pollution and ensuring a “just and orderly transition that minimises impacts on regional communities such as the Latrobe Valley”.
He said key Gippsland stakeholders in government, business and community were consulted in the plan’s development as the government sought to understand the “complex challenges” the region faced regarding transition.
“We understand that our local economy is reliant on the well paid workforce in the power stations, mines and paper mill,” Mr Buckingham said.
“The biggest single priority for the Latrobe Valley is sustainable job creation that will secure the long term prosperity of the region.
“Labor has committed to supporting the Latrobe Valley – the people, community and environment will be cared for during a just transition.”
Under the scheme, Labor would establish a ‘Just Transition Unit’ in the Department of Environment to coordinate the work of different Commonwealth agencies towards implementing the shift as part of the United Nations Paris Climate Agreement.
The unit’s work would initially focus on transition in the electricity sector and draw on advice from a tripartite council comprising of governments, industry and unions.
However, Mr Buckingham said affected communities would be consulted every step of the way.
“I think we have been living away in fear of the transition from brown coal,” he said.
“This action plan gives certainty and honesty around what the future of the Latrobe Valley will look like, and that needs to be a whole community conversation.”
Environment Victoria campaigns manager Nicholas Aberle said an excess supply of coal generation capacity was impacting renewable energy projects.
“If we want to get the renewable energy everyone wants, if it’s going to create jobs, then we need to start phasing out coal-fired power stations,” Dr Aberle said.
“It’s really now on the Coalition to come up with a credible plan, to come up with how they’re going to deal with climate change; a renewable energy system, that will start a phase out of our dirtiest coal-fired powered stations,” Dr Aberle said.
Labor’s Climate Change Action plan is available at www.laborsclimatechangeactionplan.org.au